The Friendship Project
Ken Wilson and conservationist Carl Safina (President, Blue Ocean Institute) have recently teamed up to organize The Friendship Project: Building Bridges Between Science and Faith. The project's goal is to foster relationship and dialogue between scientists and evangelicals who share a common concern for the environment.The first Friendship Project was held at Unversity of Akron, OH on August 24, 2007.
To read an article about The Friendship Project from the University of Akron News, click here.
About the Project
“Culture wars” have afflicted America in recent years. One of the most corrosive aspects of these cultural conflicts has been a growing polarization between people of faith and people of science.
We believe this polarization is as much a product of poor communication as ideological differences. Most people of faith are not hostile to science. And most scientists are not hostile to faith. Indeed, some scientists are devout, and some deeply religious people share the same curiosity that originally made science an offshoot of religious wonder.
Faith and science are the two greatest forces shaping America and the world. Science offers crucial information about how the world is changing; faith offers spiritual and moral perspective in the face of these changes. While faith and science may approach the world with varying degrees of mind, heart and soul, neither can afford to be mindless, heartless, or void of uniquely human concerns. Science and religion need each other to answer the question, “What ought we do now?”
Rather than accepting the myth that science and faith must be at odds with each other, wouldn’t it be better to have them pulling together for positive change? People do not have to agree on everything to begin working on the things they do agree on.
A Unique Moment for a Broad New Dialogue
Regardless of what we believe, the same present confronts us all. We all breathe, drink, and rely for our survival on rain, animals and plants, and the march of seasons.
Recently, people of faith, including many prominent evangelical Christians, have been moved to see climate change and loss of living diversity as moral problems. This has occurred at the same time—and largely because—scientific information about climate change has become increasingly compelling.
But few scientists and faith leaders actually have close relationships with one another. Many people in the science and faith communities remain unclear about each other’s concerns and how to reach out to each other effectively.
Scientists often do not know how to translate their scientific understanding to the broader cultural context, shaped heavily by faith. Many faith leaders do not have easy access to trusted, authoritative sources of scientific information, or know scientists who can help them understand the current state of knowledge on scientific issues. For both communities, and the nation as a whole, the resulting ignorance and lack of communication have broad implications. Science, religion, and the wisdom of public policies have all been diminished.
Dr. Carl Safina is President and co-founder of Blue Ocean Institute. Dr. Safina brought ocean conservation into the environmental mainstream. His hundred-plus publications and award-winning books include Song for the Blue Ocean and Voyage of the Turtle. He’s been profiled by the New York Times, Nightline, and Bill Moyers. His awards include a Pew Fellowship, Lannan Literary Award, John Burroughs Medal, and a MacArthur Prize, among others.
Ken Wilson is senior pastor at the Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor, Michigan. He also currently serves on the national board of Vineyard: An Association of Churches, and as regional overseer for the Vineyard Great Lakes Region. Ken is the author with Rich Nathan of Empowered Evangelicals, and was a recent participant in Scientists and Evangelicals United to Protect Creation. In collaboration with Dr. Joel Hunter (Northland: A Church Distributed), Ken compiled "Creation Care: An Introduction for Busy Pastors," a resource for pastors who desire to equip their congregations to care for creation.
Dr. Stephen Weeks is our site host for The Friendship Project. Dr. Weeks has been a biology professor at The University of Akron since 1994. His research is on the evolution of mating systems in ancient freshwater crustaceans termed “clam shrimp.” Dr. Weeks has published over 50 articles in scientific journals and in edited books, and has held seven separate National Science Foundation grants in the last 10 years.